18 countries were able to cut emissions and boost economies

PClean energy advocates and think tanks have long said it is possible to reduce emissions and grow an economy. Now, the latest report from the world’s top climate scientists says 18 countries have done just that, sustaining emissions reductions “for at least a decade” while their economies continued to grow.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) did not name the countries because the data were conflicting.

But using figures from the Global Carbon Project, which aren’t part of the report, The Associated Press found 19 nations where annual pre-pandemic carbon emissions were at least 10 million tons lower in 2019 than in 2010. These are the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Italy, Ukraine, France, Spain, Greece, Netherlands, Mexico, Finland, Singapore, Denmark, Czech Republic, Belgium, Poland, Romania and Sweden.

The IPCC identified three common factors for countries that have achieved decarbonization: they used less energy, switched from fossil fuels to renewable energy, and increased the energy efficiency of their products.

Such countries “can export a model that shows we can reduce emissions and still have high levels of well-being,” said Greg Nemet, professor of energy and public policy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison La Follette School of Public Affairs. “We can export policies that played a role in that.”

While the list of countries shows a way forward, it also raises questions of equity. The United States, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom are among the top emitters of historical CO2. Their residents already have electricity and, to a large extent, vehicles.

Nemet, who is also lead author of the IPCC report, added that developed countries that have contributed to climate change in the past and have been able to end decarbonization need to show “leadership” to help developing countries to do the same.

Historical emissions and discussions of responsibility are repeatedly discussed at UN climate conferences. But getting developed countries to agree on whether damages are warranted or how much they should pay to help poorer countries invest in green technology has proved difficult.

It is estimated that the world’s least developed countries emitted just 3.3% of global greenhouse gases in 2019, Inger Andersen, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme, pointed out in a statement to AP. Some experts point out that developing countries are often forced to borrow money at higher interest rates than developed nations, which can make large capital projects unaffordable.

“The 18 countries that have balanced emissions reductions and economic growth are indeed examples that give us hope for the future, but … all developed nations have a historic responsibility to make sure they lean — be it in relation.” on the Paris Agreement targets to allocate $100 billion a year in climate finance to ensure poorer countries have access to the technology and knowledge to make those changes,” or by driving those changes, she said.

Michael Grubb, a senior author of the IPCC report and professor of energy and climate change at University College of London, said in the report that scientists ran economic and emissions scenarios to see what would happen at different levels of carbon pollution reduction around the world . In almost all scenarios – including the most “aggressive” ones for cutting carbon emissions – global gross domestic product still nearly doubled by mid-century. Even in the deepest emissions cuts scenario, GDP grew by 96%, Grubb said.

“The point is, in practice, what we’re doing macroeconomically on climate change is really going to get lost in the noise of the overall effectiveness of our economic policies,” he said.

Grubb said the IPCC report declined to name the 18 countries because the data for some only counted carbon dioxide while for others all greenhouse gases were included. The base years also differed. Depending on the parameters, there are more nations that have cut emissions while growing their economies, he said.

Patricia Romero-Lankao, a senior scientist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and lead author of the national and subnational policies portion of the IPCC report, said she was optimistic. However, she stressed how much more needs to be done to help disadvantaged communities and regions to decarbonize and remediate the effects of climate change.

“It’s not a technical problem,” she said. “We need to understand what they need, the challenges they face, and how we can adapt our toolset to respond.”

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https://time.com/6164740/climate-action-economy-ipcc/ 18 countries were able to cut emissions and boost economies

Justin Scacco

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